Review of a novel written by Charles Ellingworth
The appalling carnage that often characterizes war has been well documented over time. However, few revealing accounts have been made about the every-day lives of those left behind.
Set in a small farm in Eastern Germany and a northern French town during WWII, Silent Night focuses on two women and their struggle to survive the consequences of a love affair with an enemy soldier and a pilot of the Luftwaffe while their husbands are held captive behind enemy lines. As their lives become interwoven, they are faced with having to make difficult choices. The raw honesty in their confessions and deference for the here-and-now is moving and treated with great subtlety and humility by the author.
Recurring themes of compromise, love, yearning, guilt and denial are explored and skillfully captured against the backdrop of war. But perhaps the most powerful message this book eschews is confirmation of the enduring resilience of the human spirit and recognition of the importance of love in a world of uncertainty, destruction and terrible human suffering. Nowhere is the latter more apparent than in the harrowing details of the physical effects to civilians living under the tons of high explosives unleashed on them during allied bombing raids over Germany in the final hours of the war.
Rarely does a book come along that paints so vivid a picture of forbidden love during one of the darkest periods of the twentieth century. Silent Night proves an exception to that rule.
“Love bares its strength amid tribulations, against all odds and wrongful speculations.” – Unknown quote.